As part of our mission to grow women’s BMX, we also want to help by building the community of women who are behind the lens too; so today, we’re featuring a woman in media. Get to know Maddy Mario, a photographer, rider and a Parsons School of Design student, based out of New York City.
How were you first introduced to the world of photography? My introduction to photography was not so formal. I started skateboarding at nine and became obsessed with the sport and culture. I enjoyed the content and began collecting magazines, like; Transworld Skateboarding, Thrasher, and others later like Slap, and Skate Jawn; this all started around eleven. However, photography as a career was never how I viewed this introduction. The beginning of my photographic journey began much later when I got injured skating. I was 16 and recovering and couldn’t skate, so instead of staying home and playing Skate 3 all day, I would still go to the skate park to hang with my friends, and I started filming for them. I started to get pretty into angles, and that’s when I started looking back at those magazines in a more formal photographic way. I wanted to get the best photos and videos for my friends as I knew that’s how I would want to be photographed. I started researching skate photographers and came across BMX Plus magazines. I had a few friends who rode bikes, but not many. Then I met Tristan Afre, whom I worked closely with, and learned much more about BMX culture and photography. Since then I haven’t stopped!
How did you find your niche? While studying at Parsons School of Design, I have studied many forms of photography and been educated on the craft in many variations of the medium; I have found my niche in action sports. More generally, I love action sports photography regardless of whether it be BMX or skateboarding; I love the dependence and collaboration between rider and photographer. The thrill of having someone perform such an incredible/ dangerous maneuver and having the responsibility of capturing the image in time is unlike any other form of photography. In other forms, you can take as many photos as possible until the best one appears on your monitor, but in this form sometimes all you have is one shot to get it right, and that, to me, is the best part of action sports photography. I enjoy the pressure, it only pushes me to be better each time. I want every photo to be better than my last.
What’s a moment in your career so far that has validated your creative path, and what’s a moment you’re working towards? I find it hard to pin down one moment as there are so many amazing moments that I have had with many different riders over the years. I have had the honor of collaborating with some outstandingly talented people; it is hard to choose just one. While I have many goals for my career, I try not to make it about the gigs or publications for my own personal benefit but more about the community and how I can be a helpful attribution to the culture. I think if I stick to that mindset and stay true to why I believe my work is important, the gigs, features, publications, etc, will become second nature.
Outside of YOU, the photographer, who are YOU, when you’re not shooting? I think a lot of my life revolves around cameras sooo this is another tough question. I am a student at Parsons majoring in photography and technological studies in media. I spend much of my free time studying film manipulations and practicing on a more fine art level. However, regardless of my art, I have a dog, Shadow, who is now 4 years old and just as crazy as I am. He and I stay very active in our day-to-day routine. I also love music I play guitar almost every day as well. I have a pretty intense CD, cassette, and vinyl collection that I inherited from my dad and have continued collecting. That’s about all I can think of right now. Oh, and I love playing pool (surprise).
Who are three photographers who have influenced your style?
- Ed Templeton
- Jared Souney
- WINDY OSBORN (legend)
- Bob Gruen
- Vince Cianni (specifically his photo book ‘we skate hardcore’) (he was also my professor in college)
Who are three photographers who haven’t influenced your style but have epic photos worth lurking?
- Gregory Crewdson (specifically his book ‘Alone Street’)
- Ruth Orkin
- Tyler Mitchell
- Neil Krug
- William Eggleston
You’re on assignment, what do you shoot with? A typical assignment is to capture product, casual behind-the-scenes, and of course, the action. My go-to body is my Sony a9 which I got from a good friend of mine, and when shooting portrait/ lifestyle, I tend to lean towards my 50mm lens, and when I shoot action, I’m either using that same 50mm or my 8-15mm fisheye. However, I always bring my medium format camera, which is the Hasselblad 503cx, a beautiful camera that I tend to geek over often.
Do you have a process in capturing the perfect shot? Always staying focused, observant, and present is the key to capturing a “perfect shot”. I want to be in tandem with the rider that I am shooting with and always keep their safety in mind. As for keeping them safe, I mean, if they land it first try, I want my shot of that first try to be the one, so they do not have to try again for the photo, especially if it is a riskier trick. The way to do this is by studying videos, and magazines, you gotta know the tricks to shoot them right. The timing of tricks is relatively unique to each rider, so getting comfortable with the rider is key, and watching them ride is vital to capturing their tricks in perfect timing.
Give us a tip, any tip!
Tip: Keep shooting every day. The only way to get better and more consistent is by practicing and becoming one with your camera. READ YOUR CAMERA MANUAL! Gotta know everything about your equipment to get the best results and most intentional effects/ results that you desire.